The Reporter Newsletter – May 2010

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01May2010

The Reporter Newsletter – May 2010

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May 2010

From the President

With the landscape of litigation discovery always evolving, we understand how critical it is for you to stay informed and position yourself accordingly in order to best serve your clients.

We continue to strive to provide you with useful information and tools, which we hope will help you support your attorneys and your firm’s clients, as well. Even though our business centers on court reporting, we do take a genuine interest in the legal community beyond court reporting, and so we do want to help you in any way we can.

Please send us areas in the litigation process that you would like to know more about, and we will do our best to include them in future issues.

I hope you find all of the information in this month’s issue helpful, and we sincerely thank you for your business.

Best regards,
Sheila Atkinson-Baker

The Choreography of Trial Preparation

By Barbara J. Ebenstein, Esq.

Choreography is the art of making dances. The choreographer arranges movement, lights, and sound in a deliberate manner to convey a concept, set a mood, or tell a story.

Trial preparation is like a choreography in that it is a deliberate arrangement of elements to convey a concept and tell a story from a particular point of view. Both choreography and trial practice rely on the skill of a performer, either a dancer or litigator, to effectively communicate with an audience or a hearing officer.

Spontaneity and Simplicity

(W)hen the dancer is at the peak of his power, he has two lovely, fragile, perishable things. One is spontaneity, . . . the other is simplicity. . . ”
Martha Graham, A Dancer’s World,
a film produced by Nathan Kroll

Successful trial practice requires those same two attributes. The litigator’s need for spontaneity is obvious to anyone who has participated in a hearing or trial. She must object to inadmissible evidence, change prepared cross and redirect examination based upon direct testimony given, and constantly revise plans based on what is happening in the proceeding. The litigator must live in the moment.

The litigator’s need for simplicity is perhaps less obvious but equally important. She must keep the story simple, the facts coherent, and the issues specific in order to communicate clearly.

A college student once asked me to recommend a course that he should take to prepare for law school. My immediate reply was, “Choreography.” He chortled, but I was serious.

As a former dancer/college dance professor/ choreographer turned attorney, I know that choreography and trial preparation are both creative endeavors and that the creative process is identical whether you choreograph a dance, paint a picture, compose music, sew a quilt, or prepare for a trial. Only the medium is different. The choreographer’s chief medium is movement, the artist works with paint, the composer uses sound, the quilter works with fabric, and the litigator uses information derived from documents and the testimony of witnesses.

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The Choreography of Trial Preparation

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These were actually said in depositions, culled by a proofreader who found them interesting enough to save and share.

A: You’ve got to figure I’m a pretty conservative lady. This is the first concert I had ever been to.

Q: Of any kind?

A: Well, I take that back. I went to Jerry Lee Lewis when I was 16 years old.

Q: There was no shooting at that concert, was there?

A: No. A whole lot of shaking going on, but no shooting.

Q: Do you recall discussing with John Smith that if you were in a deposition or anything like that and you don’t want to give the right answer, all you have to say is, “I don’t know. I don’t recall”?

A: No. I don’t remember.

Q: And what was the reason given to you for the fact you were let go?

A: The reason given to me was garnishing a knife and arguing with the supervisor.